“It’s a subtle difference, but it makes all the difference.”

As acclaimed Broadway and Hollywood veteran Anthony Rapp led an enthralled group of Suffolk theatre students through a musical theatre master class, he emphasized the small shifts in mechanics and motivation that make a performance sing.

Rapp, one of the original stars of Broadway’s Rent, was in town for an exclusive limited engagement of his new musical Without You at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre. He provided advice on everything from conquering nerves – to remembering lyrics – to successfully conveying the complex emotional journey that can happen in the space of a single song.

Rapp provided individual critiques and offered invaluable tips.Some students struggle with finding breathing opportunities in a song; others have trouble letting their emotions loose.

For junior Conor Walsh, Rapp encouraged more movement and playfulness with his material, a song from The Producers.

“[Rapp] pointed out that I wasn’t completely connecting with the material and enjoying it as much as I should,” explains Walsh. “When I was able to have fun with it, it brought the performance to another level. He knew exactly what I needed to push it over the top.”

Senior Jillian Couillard experienced a similar transformation after Rapp’s guidance:

“He told me that I need to feel a sense of joy in the liberation of the character. When you sing you have to relax and let your voice be what it is without forcing it. I liked working with Anthony because he wasn't afraid to stop me and encourage me to try new things with the song. It was an incredible opportunity working with someone who is not only such a talented actor, but also a great teacher!”